SAGE has published an annual rate card of recommended salaries for editors for the last 14 years. Though focused on freelance editors, this rate card can also be used as a starting point for full-time employment negotiations.
The rate card for 2015 is available on our website, www.editorsguildsa.org/news/2015/sage-rate-card-2015, and can also be downloaded as a PDF.
Our rate card is calculated using four main principles:
1. Inflation matching
For many years SAGE has increased rates below CPI, attempting to maintain a rate card that better represents what editors are actually paid. This dangerously deflates editors' income over time, threatening to make a career in editing unfeasible. This year we've added the average CPI for 2014, at 6.1%. We urge all post-production professionals to consider job sustainability when negotiating rates.
2. Skills growth
On top of inflation, we consider a 15-year career growth, which works out to an average additional increase of 3.6% per year. Not everyone will improve their skills at the same rate, which is why we maintain a spread across all levels of experience. Beyond 15 years of skills growth, highly experienced editors are considered to be in a strong individual negotiating position.
3. A spread of rates
We've created three experience groups: junior, mid-level, and highly experienced. Note that experience does not necessarily equate to number of years spent working in the post-production industry, but rather the specific years of experience at a specific task. Further, we have chosen to not provide a years of experience criteria for each group, as we feel that different editors progress at different rates. We urge editors to consider jobs offering below their minimum rate very carefully.
4. Rates and conditions comparable to the camera department
SAGE's policy is that the post-production rates should match those of the camera department, as both departments contribute similar technical and creative effort. When negotiating, we encourage editors to ask what the other heads of departments are earning--remembering that DOPs typically work a 72-hour week versus the editors' standard of 50. We also recommend that editors negotiate for duration-pay rather than lump-sum pay, as this requires the producer to take some of the risk for post-production scheduling. Lastly, we strongly disagree with the trend of balancing the camera and post-production costs as they appear in the budget. When discussing rates, we encourage editors and producers to compare hours with hours.